Since childhood days, craftwork had followed Aparna around like a shadow. A resident of Munroe Thuruthu in Kollam, this extremely-talented girl would deeply involve in different craft forms with no formal training or prior experience. But her handiwork attracted her family and friends.
As she developed a passion for craft, she became an expert in making terracotta jewellery during her undergraduate days. Her friends, relatives and even college teachers brought some of her products. After initial success in the small circle, she then decided to sell her craftwork via social media platform under the brand name, Rudra.
Today, the 23-year-old young Aparna is on a new mission, as over a year and a half ago, she noticed a stack of glass bottles disposed near the banks of Ashtamudi Kayal (lake), near to her home.
“While these were definitely littered around the entire area, I’d noticed that most of these bottles were quite pretty. Whenever I passed this way, I would collect the bottles with the intention of upcycling them creatively. I started with simple drawings and later progressed to art techniques like decoupage as well as calligraphy,” she says in an exclusive interview with The Better India.
She transformed her ideas into a good end product. Yes, she turned these bottles into works of art. When the bottles started piling up in her backyard, she created a Facebook page only to sell them. Giving a catchy word for it, she chose a Malayalam word for bottle and which was when ‘Quppi’ venture started.
“It was encouraging as I began getting a lot of orders. While I was happy that everyone loved my products, what made me happier was the fact that the areas from where I was picking these discarded bottles were slowly becoming cleaner.
My efforts were successful in not only making the lakeside more beautiful but also in inspiring others. Seeing me in action, people across Kollam started collecting discarded bottles and would supply these to me for upcycling. Change was happening through one simple act!” says Aparna, who is pursuing her first year of B.Ed.
As she was extra-motivated in this initiative, Aparna took one step to intensity for community participation. On 17 March, she and her friends conducted a clean-up drive along Link Road near Kerala State Road Transport Corporation bus stand in the city.
“A lot of people joined us in this initiative, and by the end of it, we managed to collect about a truckload worth of bottles. They helped with not just the collection of the bottles but also cleaning these for my use later,” she adds.
This inspired her further to do something for the “World Water Day”, on 22 March.
“It is not just glass bottles that lie along the banks of Ashtamudi Kayal, but a plethora of other waste too. So many people are into craft these days and specially upcycling. The way I specialise in glass bottles, I was sure that there would be people who work with materials like plastic and other waste too. We could invite people to fish out for waste and ask them to upcycle these very materials on the spot. That’s how this drive was envisioned,” Aparna explains.
She circulated a simple post on the clean-up drive amongst her friends and close sources with a hope of good participation at DTPC’s Adventure Park.
Thanks to her small circle of friends who worked hard and also 100 others joined Aparna and her friends at the park on 22 March.
“We started at 11 am with a pep talk. There were students from engineering and fashion design colleges as well as kids under the Mathrubhumi Seed programme. In addition to that, teachers and authorities from the Health Department as well as school students joined us in our collection drive. By noon, the collection was complete, and we dispersed for lunch. We’d set up a small stall where I’d put kept art supplies that people could use. All of us wrapped up with our upcycled products by 4.30 in the evening,” she excitedly shares.
Aparna and her friends put out a stall near the KSRTC bus stand by 5 in the evening on the same day, and then sold all the products and received good profit.
“While my initiative was never profit-oriented, the returns from the sales had been really heartening. None of my drives has been powered by any sponsors or corporate backing. I do it purely out of a passion for craft and through that, for our environment,” Aparna shares.
“Like I go around collecting bottles, my mother, who works in the State Health Department, loves collecting pots and every time she steps out, she gets at least one home!” Aparna credits her mother.
“I used to volunteer there earlier and taught kids to elderly women different craft forms. Engaging them in art and craft is relaxing and rejuvenating for them. Now, I want them to work with them and help them to earn a living out of it,” she concludes.
(Originally published by The Better India)